Tonight!  8 p.m.  Free.  At the Mohawk:  If you haven’t caught it the first four times, you’ll definitely want to go see Charlie Roadman’s Marijuana Law for Musicians.

My excuse for the late posting is not that I’m forgetful.  Not at all.  I figured you wouldn’t remember if it were mentioned too soon, therefore, a last minute reminder.  Review of the 2007 edition here, and it just keeps getting better every year.

Tax day chatter from the NACDL listserv brought this item, from Page 1 of “Instructions for Form 1099-Misc,” to my attention:

Fees Paid to Informers. A payment made to an informer as an award, fee, or reward for information about criminal activity is not required to be reported if the payment is made by a federal, state or local government agency, or by a non-profit organization exempt from tax under 501(c)(3) that makes the payment to further the charitable purpose of lessening the burdens of government.

Wow. We are now paying so many confidential informants (wooops, I mean… “cooperating individuals”) that the issue of whether they must be 1099’d is addressed on the first page of the instructions.

[Update: since initial posting, Greenfield elaborates, "A Nation Of Rats"]

Those who are interested in the history of law could do much worse than to read the letters of Pliny the Younger*. The second century Roman lawyer and magistrate’s letters are still preserved in near perfect form; the most famous of these is Epistle #10 to the Emperor Trajan.

Written in 112 C.E. – aka A.D. – its primary interest to most historians is that it’s the first written mention of Christians outside of the Bible (and the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the non-canonized Gospels, etc. – in other words, the first “pagan” reference). Pliny asks Trajan what he should do: should he execute these pesky Christians whose crimes don’t include any sort of rabble rousing or trouble making but simply refusing to worship correctly?

Continue Reading The Crime of Meeting (On A Stated Day Before It Was Light)

From The Tao Of Criminal Defense Trial Lawyering, No Balm In Gilead:

Up through law school, we’re taught that the American criminal justice system is a wonderful thing. The organized bar—the ABA, local and state bar associations—pushes the same propaganda. It’s a lie.

The truth is that, while it may be better than any other system yet created, the U.S. criminal justice system objectively sucks. Factually-innocent people get punished every day. Pleas are coerced. Insane people get punished for doing insane things. Crappy lawyers take people’s lives in their hands. Children get treated as adults. Adults with the minds of children get treated as adults. Wealthy defendants get more justice than poor defendants. [emphasis added]

That’s a Tiger Woods crazy-long list of serious problems for a system that might be the best in the world. Worse still, it’s non-exhaustive, easily modifiable by the phrase “including, but not limited to”. So are we the best?

Continue Reading America: We’re Number One!

I’ve always said that they’re either identicals with a few physical differences, or fraternals that look an awful lot alike. I’ll explain, perhaps, in a later post how it is that after more than three years we still weren’t sure, but for now, the results:

Dear Mr. Spencer:

Our laboratory has successfully completed your zygosity test and your test results have been mailed. Thank you for your interest in our zygosity testing services. As requested when you placed your order, we have included a copy of your test results in this email.

Continue Reading Zygosity Testing Results

What will they do to Ken Lay? Give him life plus cancer?

That’s from Jeralyn Merritt, on July 13, 2005, the first known use of the phrase “life plus cancer”*. Her question was not as macabre as it sounds now, since we know that Lay met an untimely death, some guess by suicide, in between his own conviction and sentencing date. No, she was commenting on the 25 year sentence that had just been handed out to Bernie Ebbers, and asking how much Lay would get, since the amount of his fraud dwarfed Bernie’s.

Jeralyn is credited with coming up with the question, what are they gonna do… give him life plus cancer? Greenfield often uses the life plus cancer conceit in discussing proportionality of and disparity between sentences, especially white collar or other non violent crimes. How much is enough? If Mr. X gets 10 years, and Mr. Y’s crime is 4 times as bad mathematically, shouldn’t Mr. Y get 40?

Continue Reading No “Life Plus Cancer” In The Federal System